At the mid-morning tea break conversation turned to Salome in the account John the Baptist. The question was whether the dancing step-daughter of Herod Antipas was names in the Gospel. The organist remembered the catchy Antiphon of the old Horas Diurnas (Daily Hours). It was mood of the music was quite surprising, a sprightly melody of the dance, “My Lord, give me on a dish the head of John the Baptist” – a strange gaiety expressing the macabre.Salome’s name does not appear.
Her historical place is clear in non-biblical texts and is stamped on a coin struck by Herod. The fact that her name appears in the title of so many works of art, music and drama is the ironic aspect of how she introduces so many to the drama of the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The name Salome, as such, has been kept with similar non-Scriptural figures, like the name of Dismas, the good thief, the names of the Magi.How is it, I wonder, we seem to be familiar with the actual name of Salome? She is well known from the Gospels as the wife of Zebedee, mother of James and John, (Mark 15;40). The Liturgy does not mention the name Salome but seemed to be associated with it in the tuneful music the Organist was humming.